Newsletter Digest: The CRI Taskforce, a sequenced methanogen, non-smoking NZ and GM

CRI Taskforce set to give its verdict

The CRI Taskforce, set up by the Government to review the structure of the country’s Crown Research Institutes, is set to release its recommendations after presenting them to the Minister for Research, Science and Technology, Dr Wayne Mapp on February 15.

Taskforce chairman Neville Jordan said the review had confirmed that the CRIs were a “rich repository of science capability for New Zealand”.

“…the approach of the Taskforce has been to build upon existing strengths and successes, and recommend steps we believe are needed to sharpen the ability of CRIs to contribute even further.

“At the same time we recognise that the challenges the country faces cannot be met by CRIs alone. The role of universities and independent research organisations is also important. We have also attempted to design recommendations that accommodate further improvements, beyond CRIs, that future governments might decide to implement,” he added.

Methanogen research published

A significant milestone was reached this week for scientists at AgResearch and the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium, with the publication in the journal PLoS One of the first rumen methanogen sequence.

The sequencing was completed last year after an extensive research programme and is very timely – it comes as New Zealand sets up a centre for agricultural greenhouse gas emissions research and joins a global alliance of countries committing funding and scientific resources to the challenge of reducing emissions from farming.

NZMJ goes to town on smokers

The pages of the current New Zealand Medical Journal have been given over almost entirely to the issue of smoking, smoke-free policies, perceptions of smoking and the health impacts of lighting up.

One research paper featured in the journal and based on a 2008 Health Sponsorship Council national survey, suggests there is strong public support for an end to tobacco sales within 10 years.

Another paper examines whether quitting smoking is easier for smokers of roll-your-own or tailored cigarettes.

Genetic modification in the spotlight

AgResearch was in the Court of Appeal in Wellington this week as it launched its bid to overturn a High Court decision last year that found the CRI’s applications to undertake GM research shouldn’t have been considered by the Environmental Risk Management Authority.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton’s chief science adviser and pro-GM scientist, Nina Fedoroff travelled around the country meeting scientists and gave a public lecture in Auckland.

Full coverage on Sciblogs:

Will AgResearch’s court appeal pay off?

US to NZ: Get real about GM